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  • Writer's pictureDon Milne

Remembering a missing soldier, lost for 20 years, on his 100th birthday this Memorial Day

Updated: May 29, 2023

If you walk among the graves of the men buried in Section 18 of Arlington National Cemetery, you will find 173 graves of World War II fallen including, in plot #16022, the final resting place for Private Howard F. Sheffer.


This Memorial Day, May 29, 2023 marks his 100th birthday. In life he did not live to see his twenty-second birthday.


In 1985 President Ronald Reagan paid tribute to those who died young in the service of their country when he said:


“Most of them were boys when they died. They gave up two lives – the one they were living and the one they would have lived. When they died, they gave up their chance to be husbands and fathers and grandfathers. They gave up their chance to be revered old men. They gave up everything for their country – for us! All we can do is remember.”


President Ronald W. Reagan, Veterans Day – Arlington National Cemetery

November 11, 1985 (See video clip here.)


Private Sheffer, who served in the 28th Infantry Division, was declared missing in action on November 11, 1944 during the Battle of Huertgen Forest. His remains were not found for another 20 years.

Howard Sheffer's story was written by Catherine Hutchins, who has written dozens of other stories about WWII fallen. You can read Howard's story here.


This Memorial Day, for the first time in history, visitors to Arlington National Cemetery will be able to visit PVT Sheffer's grave and read his story for free via smartphone (example here). The same goes for up to 8,700 other WWII fallen buried there.


Going forward, the experience of visiting Arlington National Cemetery will never be the same. Visit the grave of any WWII fallen and you can open a portal to WWII history at the personal level.


This project is only possible due to the participation of hundreds of volunteers. Our goal to complete the stories of all of the US WWII fallen is going to require many more. To learn more visit here.


Questions? Email Don Milne at don@storiesbehindthestars.org.


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